The Daily Gamecock

Dozier to enter draft, presently maintains NCAA eligibility

It's been 12 days since South Carolina's NCAA Tournament run ended in Phoenix. During that window, sophomore guard PJ Dozier has reached the decision to declare for the NBA Draft.

Dozier announced that he will initiate his draft process by seeking an invitation to the league's combine.

“I want to thank my family, Coach Martin, my teammates and our amazing fans at South Carolina for the support that I’ve received thus far in my time as a Gamecock,” Dozier said via an official press release. “After talking with my family and Frank following our time at the Final Four, I’ve made the decision to submit my name for the Draft, but I’ve not hired an agent. I’m looking forward to continuing to grow my game and the Draft process.” 

This decision doesn't necessarily signal an end to the Columbia native's collegiate career.

Dozier retains his status as an amateur until he officially hires an agent. He can attend the combine and get feedback from NBA scouts and officials during his workouts. He has to make an official decision by May 24, at which point he can evaluate that information and elect to return to school or begin his professional career. 

“We are all very excited for PJ and the opportunity that he has in front of him in taking full advantage of his ability to test the waters and submit his name for the Draft,” South Carolina head coach Frank Martin said. 

Dozier is the only five-star recruit Martin has signed in his tenure at South Carolina. He was a McDonald's All-American out of Spring Valley High School in Columbia. 

The 6-foot-6 point guard made significant strides during his sophomore campaign. He was more efficient at the line and from beyond the arc, while slashing his turnovers from 2.6 to 2.2 per game. 

Dozier averaged 15.6 points and 4.8 rebounds per game in the NCAA Tournament.

Should Dozier decide to embark upon his professional career, the Gamecocks will lose three regular starters from their Final Four team as they already are set to absorb the departure of seniors Duane Notice and Sindarius Thornwell. 

Thornwell's graduation could influence Dozier's NBA aspirations. Dozier averaged 19.5 points per game when Thornwell was serving his suspension during non-conference play. Dozier would figure to be the Gamecocks' featured scoring option next year. 

Dozier's uncle Terry Dozier played a brief nine-game stint for the Charlotte Hornets in 1989.

The NBA Draft is scheduled for June 22. Dozier is a bit of a polarizing prospect for talent evaluators due to the varying opinions on his shooting ability. ESPN's Chad Ford ranked him as the No. 73 prospect in his top 100, with his ceiling being a second-round pick and with a floor of going undrafted. Ford ranks Thornwell as his No. 41 prospect.